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The Philadelphia Eagles are comfortable with either Darren Sproles or LeSean McCoy at running back.
“When offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was asked about the decision to run Darren Sproles instead of LeSean McCoy on the final offensive drive against the Rams, Shurmur said the coaches ‘don’t care who’s in the game.’
“‘We have what we consider to be two dynamic starting running backs,’ Shurmur said Tuesday. ‘So when we’re constantly answering those questions, as we’ve been the last couple of days, it’s a non-issue to us, and it really doesn’t matter.’
“After McCoy carried the ball twice, Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley sent Sproles onto the field for four consecutive plays.
“Shurmur said there are a number of factors tht go into which running back is on the field, from whether a rusher is tied to what a coach sees. And because the coaches’ stance is they are comfortable with both players, Shurmur said they do not make as big of a deal about which one gets a carry as reporters and fans do.
“‘Last week we were talking about, ‘Let’s get Darren in there,’ Shurmur said. ‘Now what we’re saying is, ‘We want him in there a lot, but not in what’s considered critical situations?’ So from our standpoint, we’re happy to answer the questions, but it’s not a big issue for us.'”
“Late in the game, when you’re protecting a lead, is when you need your top running back to do his thing. And maybe the Philadelphia Eagles had just that with Darren Sproles running in the fourth quarter Sunday.
“Of course, LeSean McCoy is the Eagles’ top running back. He did lead the NFL in rushing last season. But McCoy hasn’t enjoyed quite the same success this season. When he took himself out of the game in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 34-28 win over the St. Louis Rams, coach Chip Kelly wasn’t all that concerned about it.
“‘I think we’re all comfortble that, if he comes out, and Darren goes in, I don’t change play-calling wise,’ Kelly said Monday. ‘We don’t change anything we’re doing. I don’t think it’s a big deal. When he knows we need a rest, he comes out for a play or two. Darren goes in and then we roll. He feels comfortable that the guy behind him, there’s not a drop-off.’
“The Eagles got the ball with 4:41 left on the clock. McCoy ran the ball twice, picking up seven yards, before going to the sideline. On his first carry, Sproles burst up the middle for 25 yards. It was the biggest gain for the Eagles in the entire game.
“That begs the question of whether Sproles’ style — hitting the hole quickly, little horizontal movement — is more effective behind this Eagles offensive line.
“‘He’s got a knack of understanding (the blocking scheme),’ Kelly said. ‘He’s a real smart football player. He really is a talented, talented running back. He has great vision and understands what we’re doing from a blocking scheme standpoint. And a lot of people don’t see him. There’s some advantages to how he plays the game and how he fits in terms of how we run the ball.’
“People ‘don’t see’ Sproles because of his height, of course. McCoy can’t do much about being five inches taller than Sproles. Ultimately, Kelly said, all he cares about is whether he can call the plays he wants with the personnel on the field. If so, he doesn’t spend much time worrying about whether it’s Sproles or McCoy.
“‘I’m not concerned with who the running back is,’ Kelly said. ‘I don’t sit there and say, ‘How come this guy isn’t in or this guy isn’t in?’ They’re both playing very well, they’re both running the ball very well. I’m happy with both those guys.'”